Maritime Security Current Affairs - 2020

Indian Coast Guard can now legally search & seize vessels in EEZ

Union Ministry of Defence has authorized every member of Coast Guard under Coast Guard Act 1978, to visit, board, search and seize any suspicious vessel and arrest people for offences within Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of country. The permission also includes seizing of any artificial island/ any floating or moored object/ any underwater object including any maritime property involved or suspected to be used in the commission of any offence. Therefore, empowering Indian Coast Guard will now enhance coastal security.

Background

Just to board and search suspicious vessels, the Indian Coast Guard (maritime security force of country) have been seeking more powers under The Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976, since 2009.

Before this notification, the maritime security agency did not have the power to board any vessel that passes through India’s EEZ. The Coast Guard then used provisions of Customs Act and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and other relevant acts to board and seize vessels in EEZ. However, it did not have necessary legal backing and many cases would fall flat in court.

There was also a legal loophole using which the vessel companies could sue Coast Guard for detaining ships without any authorisation. Moreover, if Coast Guard officials would seize drugs, detain offenders and hand them over to agencies such as local police, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The vessels would be handed over to port authorities.

About Indian Coast Guard (ICG)

It is an independent Armed force of India that was formally established by Coast Guard Act, 1978 of Parliament. It protects India’s maritime interests and enforces maritime law, with jurisdiction over territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It operates under the Ministry of Defence and works in close cooperation with Indian Navy, Department of Revenue (Customs), Department of Fisheries, and Central and State police forces.

NIA hosts the first counter terrorism exercise for Quad Countries

The National Investigation Agency will host the first “Counter Terrorism Exercise” between November 21, 2019 and November 22, 2019. The CT-TTX, Counter Terrorism Table Top Exercise will exercise the Quad countries namely India, Japan, US and Australia.

Highlights

The exercise will validate and assess the counter terrorism mechanisms and will provide opportunities to explore areas of enhanced cooperation and will also share their best practices against emerging terrorism threats. It will also enhance the cooperation between the countries in terms of counter terrorism.

Quad Countries

The dialogue between the four countries was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese President Shinzo Abe. The first ministerial level negotiations of the grouping were held in September 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

The aim of the grouping is to share commitment towards countering terrorism, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, maritime cooperation and cyber security

The Quad Dialogue was revived in 2017 with tensions increased in South China Sea. The countries formed new territorial ambitions especially focusing on China’s increasing influence in the South China sea and in the Indian Ocean.

Significance

The Grouping is one of the best avenues for interaction between India, Japan, Australia and US in terms of maritime security and domain awareness. It is the best platform for the countries to share notes and collaborate on projects on mutual interest.